Detroit – Pistons fans are better than me.
If this were my team, my team would go into Little Caesars Arena on Thursday night and lose its 25th straight game. Detroit fans did. Almost every seat had a butt. With four days until Christmas, I wouldn’t have paid the $50 it costs for tickets, parking, gas, food and to see a ball game in person these days. That money can go towards gifts and a nice dinner. Pistons fans decided it was more important to do their part than let history be made.
I would have left in the first quarter when I checked the box score and Detroit saw seven turnovers against an already stinky Utah Jazz team that was without a handful of starters/rotators. Pistons fans, instead, got louder as the game went on. At the very least, I would have left in the middle of the fourth quarter, hoping to stave off traffic at a moment when the team was two losses short of the worst single-season losing streak in NBA history. Pistons fans stayed. They cheered. They believed. They believed.
They don’t deserve this.
A 119-111 loss to the Jazz felt like an absolute rock bottom for a Detroit team that thought it couldn’t fall any further. Forget the players that Utah outed. The Jazz played Cleveland the night before. The game against the Pistons was their third in four days. Still, Utah combined for 50 points off turnovers and second-chance points. Detroit had 28. Those are buzz statistics. More bluntly, the “I want it more than you” figures.
Think about that.
The team, which had every reason to accept defeat and pack up and fly back to Salt Lake City, entered Detroit as if it was a life-or-death situation to come out victorious. A team in the midst of a 24-game losing skid, a few games away from the wrong side of history and with a packed stadium that had every reason not to be there, crumpled, folded and lying down.
“It’s incredibly hard to fathom,” Pistons coach Monty Williams said.
Fans love this basketball team. How do I know? Detroit’s old arena, The Palace of Auburn Hills, hosted the NBA year after year in the 2000s. If you put out a good product, people will come. They don’t want to leave.
I interact with them daily online and in person. Their frustrations are framed by love. No one gets angry about something they don’t care about.
These fans show up more than you might think to support this team — believe it or not, Detroit is 2-26, hasn’t won a game in 54 days, and ranks 15th in total attendance in the NBA. They show up with pride, smiles and confidence. Jerseys. Hoodies. Hats. They’ll wear anything they can get their hands on that flashes the Pistons logo. As the Lions went 0-16 in 2008, at this point, they should show up with brown paper bags over their heads. It’s too bad because it doesn’t feel like it’s going to get better anytime soon.
Something needs to change. This cannot continue. No matter how many times players say, “We’ve got it all,” or, “No one’s going to save us,” or, “We can turn this around,” it’s now clear that it’s not. case. It didn’t work. This team has a broken spirit.
Detroit doesn’t need to mortgage its future to a quick fix. That wouldn’t be smart. However, a shakeup had to happen yesterday. This group has fallen very deep into the abyss. A new face, a new perspective or something else, the only way the organization can reward its fan base with something other than a win every two months.
Everyone is responsible for this. Players turn the ball over. They miss open shots. Coaches have been sitting on a bench that hasn’t played well since the World Series was underway. Dealing with certain players may have led to this team being uninspired. The front office has a lot on the shoulders of players who should still be in college. There are no reliable wings in the list. At this point in the rebuild, the owner may have been more interested in winning the news conference than making sure the coach was actually the best for the job.
It’s all relative. All of this is due to the Pistons being where they are today, on pace for arguably the worst team in NBA history.
It’s a historic franchise that loses its luster with every passing season. Detroit hasn’t won a playoff game since 2008. The Pistons have made the playoffs three times since then. One of the most decorated organizations in the history of the NBA has been living under the foundations for nearly two decades. That’s not even right.
A reset is required. Although Detroit started a few years ago, it needs to start again.
This cannot continue. Something has to change. Because the fans don’t deserve it.
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(Top photo of Bojan Bogdanovic and Kate Cunningham: Brian Sewald/NBAE via Getty Images)